3. Present Situation
The present-day clienteles
In 2003, the total clientele of pleasure boaters and shoreline visitors to the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal reached 181,000, making it the second most frequently visited canal in Québec. Of that number, 23,000 were pleasure boaters, a decrease of almost 5% over the average observed for the two previous years. The canal had 158,000 shoreline visitors in 2003, a 9% decrease compare to the previous year. In general, pleasure boaters and shoreline visitors frequented the site in greater numbers in June, July and August.
The Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal has a large regional clientele, in terms of both pleasure boaters and shoreside visitors. However, few are from Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue itself. During periods of intensive lock and shoreside use, clients are sometimes dissatisfied because of the lack of mooring places and parking spots.
In spite of the large number of clients, the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal generally attracts “a repeat client base. Its current clientele has shown little signs of renewal.” 13 Most canal users know the site well and visit it often, indicating that they like the site. Indeed, the canal attracts and has retained a regional clientele and has become very popular.
In 2003, pleasure boaters accounted for 13% of the total clientele, or roughly the same proportion as that observed since 1997. Receiving an average of 9000 boats annually since 1997, the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal has more boats passing through its lock than any other canal in Quebec.
The most recent survey of users of the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal was conducted in 1993.14 The main data derived from the study showed that at the time:
- Sixty-two percent of pleasure boaters stopped at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, no doubt because of the attractions in the downtown area. Stopovers lasted an average of about 2 hours and 40 minutes. Clients who passed through the canal without mooring their boats were thus in the minority.
- Eighty-six percent of pleasure boaters arrived in motor boats, and 40% were from the Island of Montréal or Laval. A quarter came from neighbouring towns and villages and another quarter from other parts of Quebec. The clientele was thus regional for the most part, and over 70% of the boats that passed through the lock entered the canal from the two neighbouring lakes, namely, Lake Saint-Louis and Lake of Two Mountains.
- The clientele attracted by the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal consisted essentially of tourists (72%), who spent at least one night away from home.
Shoreside users represent by far the largest proportion of the clientele, accounting for more than 85% of visitors in 2003.
According to the 1993 survey data, shoreside users visited the site more than once and stayed for roughly two hours. They engaged in various activities, the most popular of which were, in order of importance, watching boats and taking walks or bicycling, as well as resting and relaxing, shopping, going to restaurants and bars, and picnicking. Other activities, such as fishing, were much less popular.
A study of the behaviour of shoreside users revealed that they visited the canal during pleasure trips. Since the canal is located on the Island of Montréal and can be reached by various means of transport, users were not totally dependent on cars for getting to the site. Nevertheless, the automobile remained the preferred means of transport for 60% of shoreside users.
A study of the origin of visitors highlighted the decidedly regional nature of the clientele. Sixty-two percent lived on the Island of Montréal or in Laval, while 20% resided in neighbouring regions (Deux-Montagnes/ Two Mountains, Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Châteauguay-Valleyfield). Nine percent come from elsewhere in Quebec, and another 9% from outside Quebec. Only 5% came from Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue itself.
13Desjardins Marketing Stratégique, inc. Les Canaux du Québec, Plan d’actions marketing 1996-2000, Stratégie, tactique et mise en oeuvre. Final report presented to the Marketing and Program Business Service, Parks Canada, 1996, 151 pages, p. 1-2.